Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Strengths Finder

Several months ago the VP of Operations, Chris, at the company I work for presented some of us with the opportunity to read a book called Strengths Finder by Tom Rath. (Click on the blog title for a link to the website). The book gives you a code that you use to log into the online questionaire. Each book has a different code and you can only take the questionaire once with that code. It is also a timed quiz. I think you get 20-30 seconds to read each question and answer. The point is to get you to respond with your initial answer without second guessing yourself. At the end of the questionaire it generates your top 5 strengths out of the 34 discussed in the book. Here are mine:

1. Strategic

  • People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.
  • Driven by your talents, you are innovative, inventive, original, and resourceful. Your mind allows you to venture beyond the commonplace, the familiar, or the obvious. You entertain ideas about the best ways to reach a goal, increase productivity, or solve a problem. First, you think of alternatives. Then you choose the best option. By nature, you might acknowledge your ability to detect specific configurations in events, data, or people's behavior. Perhaps you identify trends or potential problems before anyone else notices them. Sometimes you help people examine the consequences of taking action or failing to take action. Chances are good that you may have acquired expertise in specific areas. Occasionally you spend time considering several courses of action before choosing one. Perhaps you invent original or innovative techniques for dealing with expected or unexpected challenges. Maybe you use the same approach to take advantage of promising opportunities. It’s very likely that you might recognize recurring sequences in data, events, information, or people's comments. These insights might enable you to form links between things that others cannot. Instinctively, you select the right combination of words to convey your ideas or feelings. In the middle of discussions, your vocabulary provides you with precise phrases and terminology. You probably express yourself with ease and grace.

2. Includer

  • People who are especially talented in the Includer theme are accepting of others. They show awareness of those who feel left out, and make an effort to include them.
  • Because of your strengths, you can live peacefully with different types of people. You attempt to cooperate with them. Perhaps you welcome newcomers into your life. You sometimes help them fit into the group. Some may permit you to draw them into casual chitchat or serious discussions. Now and then, talking with strangers energizes you. Chances are good that you move in and out of thought-provoking conversations with grace. You delve deeply into topics and explore the frontiers of ideas. The animated give-and-take you most enjoy often occurs in the company of thinkers. You tend to be happier when you meet people who share your need to talk about theories and concepts. You tend to be less engaged with those who are overly concerned with gossip or purely practical matters. It’s very likely that you may perform at an optimal level -- physically or mentally -- later in the day. Perhaps you have figured out the exact hours during the late afternoon or evening when your concentration and your capacity to work hard are strongest. Driven by your talents, you might find a reason to feel affection for almost every person you meet. Instinctively, you sometimes enjoy surrounding yourself with companions rather than being alone.

3. Futuristic

  • People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.
  • Driven by your talents, you take charge of your future. You are determined to shape it as you wish. You probably spend a lot of time thinking about your goals. You are driven to create the experiences you desire. You tend to agree with the notion "If you can think it, you can make it happen." By nature, you have a capacity for envisioning what the coming months, years, or decades could, should, or will be like. Frequently you are prompted to transform your ideas into things you can touch, taste, see, smell, or hear. Chances are good that you are a visionary thinker. Your vivid mental images of the coming months, years, or decades often impel you to move into action. It’s very likely that you envision what you can accomplish tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, or in the coming decades. Your goals and aspirations motivate you to keep moving forward. The tension you feel when a deadline is fast approaching forces you to concentrate on the right activities, discard irrelevant information, and not waste time on intriguing distractions. Your one aim is to reach your objectives. Instinctively, you sometimes envision mental pictures of what you want your world or yourself to look like weeks, months, years, or decades from now.

4. Communication

  • People who are especially talented in the Communication theme generally find it easy to put their thoughts into words. They are good conversationalists and presenters.
  • It’s very likely that you may be quite comfortable telling stories or describing your experiences. People might look forward to hearing what you have to say. By nature, you may feel the absence of your friends more deeply than some people do. Perhaps you long for the emotional support these individuals provide when miles separate you or circumstances make communication impossible. Driven by your talents, you may be able to engage in verbal give-and-take. Perhaps you keep discussions or dialogues alive by asking specific questions or introducing new topics. Because of your strengths, you sometimes enjoy verbalizing your thoughts. You may want certain individuals to acknowledge your ideas and honor your feelings. Perhaps gaining and maintaining specific people's attention pleases you. Instinctively, you sometimes welcome opportunities to speak about topics directly related to your particular areas of mastery. Depending on your other talents, you might feel comfortable discussing ideas with one or two other specialists. On the other hand, you might look forward to addressing a larger audience of experts.

5. Focus

  • People who are especially talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.
  • By nature, you set definite goals for yourself. These performance objectives allow you to exercise control over the events in your life. They also influence many of the choices you make. It’s very likely that you might be comfortable conversing with individuals who know a few things they want to accomplish personally and/or professionally. Perhaps you can bond with certain people when they are open and honest about their goals. Typically you derive much satisfaction from helping others design performance objectives for themselves. Because of your strengths, you might offer assistance to people when the predicament in which they find themselves fascinates you. Maybe you come to the aid of others when they ask you to study an intriguing problem, unanswered question, or unfamiliar subject. Occasionally you are delighted to report back to them your discoveries and conclusions. Instinctively, you may sometimes feel a particular need to reach goals, make money, have power, or become famous. To achieve these successes, you might easily state what you want, expect, demand, or need. From time to time, you use sophisticated words or complicated terminology to capture and keep the attention of certain people. Maybe your vocabulary sets you apart. What you say and how you say it might threaten or intimidate selected listeners, if that is your intent. Chances are good that you are typically exasperated by people who cannot set a clear direction for themselves. You can become annoyed by their inability to ignore distractions that prevent them from reaching their goals, meeting their deadlines, or following their plans.
Ok so that's a very discriptive explanation of my top 5 strengths. The book goes into a lot more detail on each. After we completed our quizes and reading the book, those of us who participated sat down together to discuss what we got out of it. We also discussed a lot of the different strengths people have and how we can use this new knowledge of our co-workers in our day to day tasks. It gives you insight into those who can handle certain tasks or assignments over others. It has helped me learn how to approach certain people who are not the best at communicating in order to get the job done or how to keep someone focused on the task at hand. But this questionaire/quiz did not just help me in my work environment. It helped me learn how to successfully approach different types of obstacles or circumstances in my every day life. It has helped me hone in on why I am the way I am and how to use my strengths to better my life and the life of those around me. The Strengths Finder website keeps all of your information in a private online profile so you can always refer back to it. It also has printable materials on your specific strengths. I have my list printed and posted in my office to remind me daily that I am strong enough to overcome all things.

I wanted to share this information with everyone in hopes that it will not only encourage you to embrace and use your own very special strengths but also know who I truly am. I could not have described myself any better then the above 5 strengths did.

I strongly encourage everyone to get this book and take the quiz. It has really opened my eyes to the person I always new I could be.... now I just know how to get there!


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